End of October on the Homestead

It was actually a rather quiet October on our homestead this year. I can remember our place being covered with several inches of snow by the end of October in years gone by... and there have been years when we were rather late in getting our winter supply of hay and firewood, so busy with those things during the month.

But this October was quite warm for the most part, and all of our winter preparations are completed. So it did seem rather quiet around here!

Matilda had her feet tended to this month. Pretty feet, girl! {smile} When she came back home, she spent a few days grazing in the front pasture... until she discovered where we keep the hay.

Pretty *and* clever, that cow of mine is!

And ever expecting (and often receiving) a treat, Matilda is happy to poke her head through the fence of her corral when she sees me heading her way. Drool at the ready, just in case an apple (or carrot) is hiding in my pocket.

The ducks are still spending their days in the big pen next to the goat pen. Sometimes they come to the yard for some foraging and splashing, but often they simply quack and bask in the sunshine in their happy place.

It has always amused me that our lovely hens like to use the same nesting box. We have fifteen hens, currently, and plenty of nesting boxes to go around... but they prefer to wait their turn for the same box most days.

Beautiful brown shelled eggs indeed! Since I am vegan, I don't personally eat these eggs. But I am thankful that we have them for the rest of my family. I know for certain the hens they came from are well cared for and loved!

Speaking of hens, here come the lovely ladies. They are kept safe from predators in their enclosed run and coop, and let out each day for plenty of supervised free ranging and pecking about the barnyard.

I'm always a bit melancholy when October goes... it is perhaps my very favorite month of all. I'm not sure why. It just has such a cozy and homey feel to it that I have really come to savor and appreciate. But time marches on indeed. And into November we go!

Wishing you a lovely day, friends.

Our Little Goat Herd

It is a fact. I love goats. They are simply fantastic creatures, I think. I only have experience with the ones we have kept on our homestead, but in the fifteen-or-so years we have had goats on our farm I have always found them to be friendly, playful, intelligent, and lots of fun to be around. And another random fact about me is that I *love* the way goats smell. I do!

Indeed, goats are probably my favorite barnyard species... don't tell my cow-friend Matilda. Ha!

No worries. I'm sure she knows she is my favorite *critter* of all.

Way-back-when, we started our goat herd with some Alpines and LaManchas. Later, we purchased a beautiful Nubian / Toggenburg doe to add to the herd. And after that, we rescued two Pygmy goats who were given to us when their previous owner no longer wanted them. The rest of our goats have been born on our farm... such fun memories, those are.

Is there anything cuter on a farm than a baby goat bounding around the barnyard? Oh my! I think not.

Today, I would love to introduce you to our wee herd of does. These are the fine goat ladies that currently inhabit our barnyard...

This is Heidi, Coco, and Bonnie. They are sisters, Coco and Bonnie are twins and Heidi is a year younger. All of them are approaching ten years old, but we still often refer to them as the baby goats because they were all born on our farm. {smile}

Heidi, Coco, and Bonnie
Clementine is officially "my" goat so she is extra special to me. She is one of the Pygmy goats we rescued and has been at our place for six years. I love her personality... she answers with a "maaa-aaa" nearly every time I say her name. It's cute!

Our other Pygmy goat is Bailey. We are fairly sure she is Clementine's daughter, but the person that gave them to us wasn't certain. Bailey does love her spool!

The goats' large pen and shelter is adjacent to our yard, so we get to spend lots of time around them. And every now and then we let them come into our yard to nibble at the grass.

Heidi, Bailey, and Coco
As I have mentioned before, we no longer milk any of our goats as we once did. They simply live out their days here and aren't required to produce food for us. We treat them a bit like pets, I suppose... all of our critters are rather pampered, I admit... and we also respect their temperaments and tend them accordingly.

I am thankful for our gentle (vegan) homestead. Lord willing, we will always have at least a few goats at our place. They seem to love it here and I am certain I wouldn't want to be without them!

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. And happy almost-end-of-October to you, too. So trite it seems to each week mention that time seems to fly, but it is true.

We celebrated a birthday at our house this week. One of our boys turned sixteen... The other day, he and I were playing table tennis together, and discussing how it is often called sweet sixteen for a girl's birthday.

After a discussion of whether sour or spicy would be his preference, we settled on spicy sixteen as a way to describe the milestone birthday for him. Ha! Although he is incredibly sweet, if I do say so myself. And now I shall stop lest I embarrass my boy! {smile}

And because of that birthday, the holidays are officially underway at our place. The next few months will be a whirlwind of celebrating and decorating and partying and baking and making at our place, Lord willing. We have the traditional holidays and several more birthdays and a wedding anniversary (our 29th!) on the horizon.

Exciting, yes! And tiring... that too! But these joyous times fill me with gratitude, and probably have a bit to do with why time does indeed appear to fly.

Here are a few things, in addition to our boy's birthday, from my ongoing gratitude list this week...

:: Our oldest daughter is home for a few days. How lovely to have nine of us all together in one place... truly, I am blessed. And my running buddy (her dog) is here, too. Yesterday, we achieved my best run {so far} together. Fun, fun!

:: We made a quick stop at the thrift store last time we were in town. I found five pairs of jeans for myself, three of them in the free box, all cute and in great condition. And long enough, which is a big deal for me since I am 5'9" tall... Oh yeah!

:: My hubby bought me an acorn squash this week. Just because he knows I love them... so thoughtful, he is, to make a special trip to the store to surprise me! I cooked that lovely squash, stuffed it with pumpkin almond hummus, and ate the *entire* thing. Delicious, ha!

:: A skiff of snow. After an unusually warm week, it was pleasant to open the blinds to a skiff of snow in the barnyard yesterday. Such a cozy feeling, to tend to the critters and outside chores, and then warm up next to the wood stove. Ahhhh.

And all of the little, everyday things...

Seeing a magnificent bird of prey fly right past our window. So many deer in the field. Catching Matilda sneaking a bite from the winter hay storage... silly cow. A full pantry. The blessing of homeschooling. Acing my five unit ASL test, woot! I like to dwell on them, those simple happy happenings of daily life. Nuggets of ordinary goodness.

I do hope your cup is brimful of things to be grateful for, friends. Thank you for coming by my blog this week!

Pumpkin Almond Hummus

Hummus is one of my favorite foods. It is also a bit expensive to purchase, in my opinion. At least it seems expensive when my large family easily polishes off a tub or more of hummus within a single meal. Woosh... and it's gone. And I am left with another empty tub or two for my frugal food storage container collection. {smile}

It really is easy and inexpensive for me to make my own. And why wouldn't I... it is indeed quite simple and completely delicious.

I make pumpkin almond hummus all year long, although it does seem rather fitting in autumn, when everyone goes bananas for pumpkins. I use my food processor to mix it all smooth, but I suppose a good blender would work... be careful, and follow the safety instructions for whatever mixing device you choose, of course.

Is it even possible for a mama to tell someone to use something sharp and not remind them to be careful? Ha! Anyway...

Here is the recipe.

Pumpkin Almond Hummus

1 3/4 cups *cooked* garbanzo beans (or a 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1 3/4 cups *cooked* cannellini beans (or a 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1 Tablespoon almond butter, no salt
2 Tablespoons raw shelled pumpkin seeds, plus a few more for garnish
1 chunk of fresh, peeled lemon (about 1/4 of a small lemon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup water, more or less

Place all ingredients except the water in the food processor or blender container. Following the directions for your appliance, process or blend until smooth. Add a bit of water, as needed, to adjust the thickness of the hummus to suit your preference. Once everything is evenly pureed and as thick as you like, it's done! Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl and sprinkle some raw shelled pumpkin seeds on top if you prefer. An oh-so-light dusting of ground cinnamon looks pretty too, I think.

Serve pumpkin almond hummus as a dip, spread it on toast, top a baked potato or sweet potato, use it to stuff a squash, grab yourself a spoon and dig in... there are lots of ways to enjoy the yummy-ness. If you have leftover hummus (lucky you!) I suggest you store it covered, in the refrigerator, and use it up within a few days.


Fruit of the Spirit

Things I desire to be, characteristics I long to possess... one fruit that begins with love, a result of walking with the Lord and of nurturing a relationship with Him. I can't grow the fruit myself, I can simply offer the soil of my life to God and keep my soul watered by staying in His word. May all that grows bring glory to God alone.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 (WEB)

The photo of the lovely, wild berries is from one of our many day trips to the mountains. We picked *so* many berries that day, but very few were remaining by the time we got home.{smile} Fun times and a good memory...

Wishing you peace, friends!

I use the World English Bible (WEB) for my word pictures because it is a version in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked. More information can be viewed here.

My Style :: Home Sewn and Handmade

Do you love this outfit, friends? (I do hope you thought... yes!) I am quite pleased with it, especially because I made the skirt and the cowl myself, and also altered those black leggings to resize them.

But honestly, my very favorite part of the photo is the shadow of my son. I am not very good at "selfies" so I am glad he agreed to debut his photography skills for this post. Thank you, Sweetie! {smile} (I doubt he will ever read his mama's blog, but just in case...)

I fell in love with this black floral fabric as soon as I saw it. I purchased two yards, and I have a wee bit left... perhaps one of my girls can use that remnant for a project of her own.

And I used my current favorite sewing pattern once again. Oh, that pattern and I are becoming quite familiar with one another! I barely had to refer to the sewing instructions this time... kind of like when you make the same recipe over and over and one day realize you have it memorized.

It is the same pattern that I used for this skirt.

Cute, cute... the fabric and the pattern are a good combination, I think!

My Home Sewn and Handmade Style Details:

Skirt :: home sewn from a pattern I had, the fabric cost just under $10.00
Cowl :: crocheted by me (Twisted Orange Cowl)
Black blouse :: thrifted, cost $1.00 or so
Black leggings :: thrifted, recently resized them so I can still wear them (yay!)
Black boots :: thrifted *and* borrowed from one of my girls
Makeup :: none... I don't wear it
Crazy Hair :: a result of my current quest to switch to water only washing! I have been only washing with shampoo once or twice a week for a year and am ready to see if I can forego shampoo altogether. So far, so good! I'm still loving the purple tint in my hair, too. I'm not sure whether I will keep it up or let it go back to natural, though. Decisions, decisions!

So now that my skirt is done I have that combination feeling of...

"Yes! My sewing project is finished!" along with...

"Awww... my sewing project is finished, now I don't have a sewing project to work on." I guess it's time to plan for the next one!

Wishing you a lovely day~

Pretty Feet for Matilda

Every now and again, we have to arrange for Matilda to have her hooves trimmed up. It isn't a task we can do ourselves, so she goes for an occasional overnight visit to a friend's ranch when he has his herd of cows tended to by the trimmer.

This hoof is the reason I am blessed to have Matilda... so while it does need special care, I am thankful for it. Somehow, this foot was injured by the cold weather at her previous location and the farmer didn't want to keep her, and thought he wouldn't be able to sell her because of it.

Little did that farmer know that I had been praying for *years* for us to find a Jersey cow at an affordable price. Because of that hoof, she was priced well below any other Jersey-for-sale that I had ever seen. And in the nearly ten years we have had her, the foot hasn't caused her any problems other than the regular trimming it requires.

How loved and pampered she has been since we rescued her, and she will, Lord willing, live out her days here on our gentle homestead.

So hoof trimming day had arrived and our friend came with his trailer to pick her up and take her back to his place.

We loaded her into the stock trailer and away they went to our friend's place. It was hard to watch her go, it was! She is such a mama's cow {smile} and a bit wary of people she isn't familiar with... so I repeatedly reminded myself that it was all for her own good and she would be home tomorrow.

The next day, our friend brought her back to our farm and she grazed a bit in the lower pasture. I went outdoors and called her name... "Matilda!" She raised her head and up the driveway she came.

A bit like a big overgrown puppy, she is. I love that she comes when I call her. Usually. Sometimes. Ha! On this day, she seemed quite happy to be home!

Pretty, pretty feet indeed! All of her hooves got a trim and she will be sure footed and comfortable as we head toward winter.

I wasn't the only one happy to see her. Shadow, our nearly 30 (!) year old miniature horse... another of the animals we have rescued from a previous owner that no longer wanted it... is Matilda's pasture pal and is *very* attached to Matilda.

So all is back in order around the homestead. The queen of our barnyard has returned and is looking oh so lovely, if I do say so myself.

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends! It has been a lovely week of weather at our place... such warm and sunshine-y days for this time of the year. And the week went at a slower pace than usual for us since a few of our tribe battled a short lived but nasty while it lasted tummy bug. I had heard that a minor illness was going around, and apparently it found us.

The bug passed quickly, and all of us are feeling fine once again *and* I managed to get the laundry caught up. Those are indeed things for this week's gratitude list!

And as my weekly (so far!) tradition of sharing snippets of that ongoing gratitude list with you goes... here are a few more:

:: Those goats of ours. Since their pen is right next to our yard, I get to enjoy their company whenever I am outdoors. Such friendly and playful personalities they have. Goats are great, I think.

:: My new dryer. Oh, the decision to use the dryer rather than the clothes line was an easy one to make this week, friends, with that illness in our midst! As gorgeous as the sunshine was, the convenience of using the dryer won the toss every time.

:: Confidence to share my 100 pound transformation. I was a bit nervous about it, sharing those ups-and-downs... so it felt quite brave to push the publish button on this post. I really hope to be a good ambassador for my beliefs and convictions, and I have somehow gotten over fearing what other people think, but still... sharing bits of myself on my blogs is a daily exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone (in a good way, for sure).

:: Running in the out-of-doors. Clear beautiful mornings, wide open spaces, and lots of energy are a wonderful combination, I think.

:: Planning our menu in advance. This illness caught me right at the end of a menu plan... and I somehow managed to wing it this week, without a menu *or* going to the grocery store... I will give myself a tiny pat on the back (ha!), but mostly credit our food storage for this achievement. {smile} It did make me realize just how helpful my usual organized approach to keeping my family fed is!

Now I am thinking I will have to write up my menu planning system and grocery shopping method to share here sometime soon-ish!

:: The little things. Enjoying the start of basketball season, which also means eating popcorn every night around here. Woot! Dancing with my little boy, because he invited me to. Getting excited for the upcoming holidays. It's true, I love the traditions and celebrations! And the holiday season begins for us next week, with a birthday at our place.

There is always something to be grateful for, I think. Sometimes I have to look and look, but a reason for gratitude is there... even if it is simply knowing that I don't have to have all of the answers or understand all of the reasons. My dear hubby leads our family and home and God is in control of everything. I am quite blessed indeed.

Wishing you abundant goodness, friends. Oh, and *thanks* for coming by my blog this week!

Acceptable in Your Sight

My eighteen year old daughter chose the verse for my word picture this week. It is a verse I meditate on often, and a regular prayer of mine as I go through my day... I was thankful for another chance to immerse myself in those encouraging words as I crafted the image for today.

So many of my spoken words fall upon the ears of my children, and it is my hope and desire that all eight of our kids will one day love the Lord with all of their hearts. And I think about the words I speak to my dear hubby and others, and those I write and share on my blogs. May those words be humble and apt and bring glory to God alone.

I am reminded, too, that as much as I do hope my words are kind and encouraging to anyone that encounters them, it is what God thinks of my words that truly matters. I am not to concern myself with whether or not I am accepted or popular, or even liked, by other people...

Acceptable in His sight is paramount. So thankful for Jesus, I am.

And the meditation of my heart, too. It is indeed an ongoing struggle, a moment-by-moment decision, to think on the right things, is it not? To not fret or fear, and simply trust. The desire to meditate properly is one of the many reasons I am thankful that my children and I are memorizing Psalm 119 together, and for all of the other Scriptures we have hidden in our hearts through the years.

I am ever grateful for the edifying lyrics of the Christian worship and praise songs and hymns that often fill our home. I have no excuse to dwell on anything that isn't lovely!

Praise the Lord. He alone is my rock and my redeemer.

Today's photo is a delightful memory from an afternoon spent at our stretch of creek as autumn was newly underway a month or so ago. Those itty bitty alder cones are so cute, don't you think? They always make me smile.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
Yahweh, my rock, and my redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

Wishing you peace, friends.

I use the World English Bible (WEB) for my word pictures because it is a version in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked. More information can be viewed here.

How I Lost 100 Pounds

My personal struggle with my weight began after I experienced an ectopic pregnancy loss in my early 20's. I was not yet a believer so I didn't seek comfort in Christ, and though my dear hubby was wonderfully supportive, I became rather depressed. And I gained 40 pounds in a short amount of time.

Eventually, my heart healed from our loss... but the extra weight remained. Our little family of four began to grow, and I didn't even try to lose any weight between babies. My size really didn't matter to me, in spite of occasional rude comments, until I was nearly 40 years old. That's when the diet mentality set in.

I lost weight for the first time, about seventy pounds, I think, and oh how happy I was! Two more babies came along after that... and I consider that time to be a most wonderful and cozy time of my life indeed. I had my beautiful family, our homestead, and a relationship with the Lord... I wore dresses all the time, tended our critters, baked every day, we paid off our house and reached our goal of being debt free. Loads of goodness and lovely memories, those things are.

The only thing I was lacking was confidence... I became rather obsessed with and eventually walked away from fitness, and deliberately gained back all of the weight I had lost and more. Sheesh.

It finally happened, though... in 2015, weighing 100 pounds more than I do today, I found confidence (or maybe it found me?) and made some significant personal changes. And now, as a 48 year old mama of eight, I have more peace, joy, happiness, and energy than ever... and Christ-based confidence that was worth waiting for.

My plant-based fitness journey is a rather important part of me, it's my lifestyle now. Going vegan truly changed my life, and I share that part of myself... the running, hoop dancing, and fitness related aspects of my days (and more!)... on Run Hoop Julie. All of that fun needed its own space! {smile}

And I finally have the courage and confidence and desire to share all the ups-and-downs of my 100 pound transformation...

Please know that I don't consider my story to be a "before and after" weight loss success story. For me, it is simply Then and Now and the details are here.

Wishing you a lovely day, friends!

Update 10/2018: So many things have changed since I wrote this post a year ago! I am no longer vegan, I have fully recovered from an eating disorder and exercise obsession, I have gained weight and peace and joy and so much more and I have *never* been happier or more authentically myself. So while I am leaving this post unedited... because this is exactly where I was at when I wrote it and it is an important part of my life story... I do invite you to read some of my newer and recent posts if you would like to know me as I am today. Blessings to you! ~Julie

Around the Farm

Greetings from our barnyard, friends. Our critters bring us such joy. What a blessing it is to care for them and share our homestead together. Would you like to come along with me and have a peek at our farm family today? Yes? Let's go!

Here is Matilda, beginning to fluff up for the cold months to come. Her winter coat is a darker brown than her summer blondness, and her face becomes almost black this time of the year. And don't you love her single horn? It has always been that way, it truly does suit her personality, I think.

Looking good, girl! {smile}

Here is Bonnie the goat, using a rock to get a better view of things. Her herd sisters are nibbling at the crumbs of hay left behind from their morning feeding.

This is Stinky Winky, our faithful senior barnyard cat. She is a lovely addition to our place... she never wanders far and likes to hang out with the chickens. Ha!

We recently brought our ducks to the yard for a splash about and to forage in the grass for whatever suits their fancy. They always stay together... Bandit, the brown and white runner duck in front, appears to be the leader of the flock.

Such lovely ladies, these hens, all in a row...

Matilda often chooses a nearby spot to do her resting. She has acres and acres to wander and graze, but seems to prefer to be near where we are for her daily nap.

Back indoors, Ruby lounges in her cushy nest. Such a pretty kitty she is, don't you think?

All is well in the barnyard as October marches on. Thank you for joining me for that little tour!

Wishing you a good start to your week,

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you! It was a happy-busy week at our place, and I found lots of tidbits to add to my ongoing gratitude list. They are always there, waiting to be noticed... and the more I notice, the more there are. Gratitude does lead to more gratitude indeed.

Amidst the tasks of daily life, I was able to find time for some piano practice, Hebrew practice, and ASL practice this week. Sometimes I get antsy about simply reviewing... my desire-to-achieve wants to move forward!... but I am remembering that it is okay to relax and enjoy what I already know. To celebrate how much I have learned thus far. These are hobbies, not requirements, and worthwhile simply for the pleasure they bring into my days.

Here are a few of the snippets from my gratitude list this week...

:: Time together. Technically, we were cleaning the carrots that our generous friends gave us. But to this mama's heart, it was even better... precious moments with our younger teenage son. Happiness, for sure.

:: And again, time together. Our eighteen year old girl got her earlobes pierced, so now we get to tend to the aftercare of our ears together every day for awhile... such fun! Such joy in being ourselves, a little freedom of expression for a Christian mama and her newly adult (oh my how did that happen?) daughter... together. {smile}

:: I started Christmas shopping! Oh, how happy I am to have some fun ideas and purchases made already. In our large family, we have five birthdays to celebrate in the next few months... plus Christmas... plus my dear hubby and my wedding anniversary... so I need to budget, plan, craft, and shop starting *now*! Even though we like to keep it simple, that's a lot of goodness to celebrate.

:: A rude remark. I don't believe rudeness is ever necessary, but I do like to consider remarks that people make to me. And it does seem that people are rather free with their opinions these days, don't you think? But every remark whether kind or rude is a chance to reflect and consider... to change or not, to stop or persevere, to explain or simply offer a sweet smile and remain quiet. To forgive the rudeness or appreciate the kindness. And move on.

:: The little things... When everyone loves the dinner I made. Baking bread again... as I have done every week for more than twenty years. Secret pals... a fun game we play in our family each week, and reveal during our traditional Friday night pizza. The crispness of autumn in the air. My cow-friend Matilda saying, "Mooo!" so much this week, I do think she approves of being moved to her new pen! {smile}

Thank you for coming by my blog this week, friends. I wish you a lovely weekend and an abundance of reasons to be grateful.

People Who Inspire Me

Oh my, how unsettling the news can be these days. But even now, is the world not full of inspiring people and stories... doers of good, deeds of kindness, stories of overcoming. I love those flickers of light and find them quite encouraging.

I'm the kind of person that cries at tragic news reports and sad movies. I pray for people I have never met when I read their stories or hear of their struggles. I feel things deeply, I suppose, and I tend to be rather perceptive. Good things, those... especially since I have learned how to let go of negative influences and not be ruled by my own emotions.

All the glory belongs to God for that, indeed!

And I do love to be inspired. I find the good in others, their talents, and their accomplishments to be quite motivating.

There are specific people that come to mind... the Lord Jesus, of course, in every way. At this moment, I feel especially inspired by His love, unselfishness, meekness, and sacrifice. Oh to be like him!

And my hubby inspires me in so many ways that I won't share specifically, but do let me assure you that I have never known a more wonderful person than the man I married nearly thirty years ago.{smile} So thankful I am to be his wife, indeed.

Recently, while my hubby and I were enjoying our morning coffee together {vegan pumpkin spice for me, oh yum!} we were discussing inspirational people. And while I do have a rather long list of specific names I could share, I realized that it is a type of person that tends to inspire me, for the most part.

I am inspired by people who...

Think of others, and do something about it.
My children and I were watching some online clips together... of people doing kind things for others. Like giving sandwiches to homeless people. How easy it is to ignore the fact that we can often *do* something for someone in need. And I am reminded that praying for others is something we all can do. Right now, wherever we are.

Are good at what they do.
Even if it's a seemingly unimportant skill, I admire someone who puts time and effort into developing their interests and gifts and talents. I do believe that if something adds to the person that you are... if it makes you happy to do it... it is never a waste of time. Hoop dancing, anyone? (ahem...)

Don't care what other people think.
I don't mean that in a rebellious tone... rather, in a be yourself kind of way. Unique people who do what they do with confidence inspire me. I think of a field of flowers, say all of them are red tulips except one big yellow sunflower. That mental image inspires me to simply be who I am, not what anyone else thinks I should be, and bask in the sunshine, the gift that each day truly is.

Succeed when no one said they would.
My children's homeschool history books are full of stories of great people who failed time and time again before they succeeded. I think of musicians and athletes that I admire, who have shared stories of being told they were not good enough to "make it," and then they did exactly that.

I try to look for the good in every story. Sometimes, I don't see any... and then I remind myself that God is in control and I am not meant to understand everything. But when I come across a story or a person or a quote that truly touches my heart and motivates me to be the best I can be, I am truly thankful.

And those people who aren't very kind, or unselfish, or positive... oh, such people can be found everywhere, yes? I let them inspire me too. Simply be the opposite with a smile, and don't let anyone else steal my inner peace.

Wishing you a lovely day, friends.

I Will Sing

You might say that music brought my dear hubby and me together. On March 10, 1984... a *most* important day in my life... my hubby and I met for the first time while aboard a school bus. We were both part of the high school band and our band was travelling to play at a basketball tournament.

I played the flute, he played the baritone, and it was, for me, love at first sight. We quickly became high school sweethearts, and all of these years and eight children later, I am quite happy I trusted my instincts and claimed my man. I do believe we were made for each other. {smile}

As I shared in my testimony, it was Christian music that I heard on the radio that originally planted seeds of faith in my heart. Especially the music of Michael W. Smith... God used it in my life in a wonderful way at just the right time.

Music is an important part of our family life today, too. All of our children have piano lessons as part of their homeschool. A few of our children have dabbled in playing guitar, and a few have worked to develop their singing voices. One of our girls plays the violin. My hubby no longer plays baritone, but this mama still plays the flute and is s-l-o-w-l-y learning piano. There is a lot of practicing done around here, indeed.

Another musical endeavor we have undertaken in our homeschool is memorizing Psalm 119 to music... we began last year and are currently reviewing verses 1 - 64. Sixty-four verses so far, even our littlest ones are hiding them in their hearts! I am so pleased about it and proud of my children. Having a song that is actually the word of God stuck in our heads is a good thing, yes? Yes! {smile}

And while we enjoy a variety of musical genres and styles, hymns and praise music are the definite favorites. Singing songs to and about the Lord and playing familiar worship tunes on our instruments puts our focus on God... exactly where we want it to be.

It has been a whole year since we were blessed to attend a concert together. Oh, how excited I was to learn that my *favorite* Christian artist, Matt Maher, would be in concert nearby... with Casting Crowns and Hannah Kerr. The music, the atmosphere of worship, the nine of us together singing along with a crowd of believers... It was an amazing, joyful experience, we still reminisce about it quite often!

So I will sing and play and dance for the Lord... I will keep practicing, here a little and there a little. And it thrills my heart whenever I see and hear our children doing the same. Oh, how exceedingly thankful I am for all of the wonderful hymns and songs that encourage me, convict me, inspire me... and most importantly, glorify my Savior. Because it isn't about me, it's about Him.

"My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises."
Psalm 57:7 

Wishing you peace,

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